With the 2014 NLL Draft now in the books we can start speculating about which of the rookies will stand out among the rest.
Interestingly, only four times in the last decade has the Rookie of the Year also been the first pick overall: Logan Schuss this past season, Mark Matthews the previous year, Ryan Benesch in 2007 and Brodie Merrill in 2006. So getting picked first is no guarantee of being at the top of the class when the next season wraps up.
The 2015 season may well be one of those cases. First overall pick Ben McIntosh is a talented forward who should blend in well with his Edmonton Rush teammates as he has spent the last summer playing side-by-side with several of them on the Maple Ridge Burrards. But McIntosh is also joining an offense which scored the second-most goals in the NLL last season (220). Add in the return of Corey Small to the lineup after a year off due to injury and McIntosh might not get a ton of opportunities to stand out.
Instead, look for second overall pick Jeremy Noble to grab more of the spotlight. The Rochester Knighthawks made room for Noble by trading Johnny Powless to the Vancouver Stealth. With some extra space in the offensive group, Noble has a shot at contributing from Day 1 and benefitting from the passing skills of Dan Dawson and Cody Jamieson.
But my choice for Rookie of the Year is Miles Thompson, taken third overall by the Minnesota Swarm. Thompson has an opportunity to make an impact right away. The Tewaaraton Trophy winner is joining what was the worst offense in the NLL in 2014 (180 goals). Beyond proven scorer Callum Crawford and 2014 Rookie of the Year Schuss, the Swarm don’t have a lot of real offensive threats—Thompson could step into this group and quickly become the third option they need. Expect to see Thompson log a ton of floor time immediately and be called upon to help make Minnesota back into a contender.